The Citizen Scientist On The Move 25 – 27 June 2012, Utrecht+Amsterdam

As part-time lecturer at Utrecht University, I am one of the co-organizers of this event:


When: 25 – 27 June 2012.

Where: Sweelinckzaal Utrecht University (25/26 June); Theater Anatomicum, Waag Society Amsterdam (27 June).

With the advent of digital and mobile technologies scientific knowledge production has changed profoundly. As interactive, affordable, networked and ubiquitous technologies they invite people to engage with, alter and probe scientific ‘facts’. Play is essential to think about this new kind of engagement with science. It offers citizens powerful ways to become involved with and knowledgeable about scientific practices and offers subversive and exciting possibilities to actively contribute to and transform them. During this conference we therefore want to look at current citizen science developments through the lens of play. We will explore how the playful potential of digital media and cultures strengthen citizen’s scientific engagement and knowledge about their environment; and how the relationship between professional and laymen knowledge production is shifting through the ludic use of digital technologies. Read more…

The Citizen Science on the Move conference is part of a GATE-funded Knowledge Transfer Project between Utrecht University’s Center for the Study of Games and Play and mobile story-telling platform 7scenes. A partner for this conference is the Waag Society, an Amsterdam-based institute for art, science, and technology.

More information about the event here >>

Below the abstract of the talk that I’m giving:

Playing the media city: the citizen as urban planner

Michiel de Lange | 13 June 2012 | Citizen Science Conference, Utrecht University

Somewhere between the mid to late 19th century the science of urban planning took off as a professional and academic discipline. It was a reaction to the industrialization of the city and the squalid living circumstances of a majority of urbanites. Today, a wide range of digital media technologies are spreading into the urban realm. Again these new machines are affecting urban life and culture, as well as urban design practices.

Questions about the role of new media in shaping the built form and social fabric of urban life are urgent in the context of challenges posed by rapid urbanization, a worldwide financial crisis that hits particularly hard on the architectural sector, and broad socio-cultural shifts as online culture seeps through the porous confines of cyberspace into the physical world. Like many other disciplines, urban design is faced with shifting relations between professionals and amateurs, the decline in legitimacy of expert knowledge, and the rise of networked collective action.

This contribution investigates the relationship between digital media and urban culture and design through the notion of play. This is done in two ways. First, I explore how play and games are used to engage citizens in co-creating their own environment. Four cases are presented that range from games used in simulations or actual planning processes of physical environments, to games that help to foster a poetic ‘sense of place’ among urbanites. Second, I suggest that the concept of play may act as a lens to understand changing professional design practices. It is proposed that the tripartite ontology of play as object, algorithm and action offers a fruitful perspective on the changing role of urban designers in shaping the future of the media city.


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